In the last season of HBO’s hit-show “Silicon Valley” is a scene where Gavin Belson, CEO of Hooli (the Google-caricature in the series), grabs one of those bear-shaped honey bottles which are somewhat ubiquitous here in the US, pours himself some honey for his tea, puts the bottle back on the table and remarks: “The bear is sticky with honey.” He then turns around and boards his private plane. Hilarity ensues when his underlings try to make sense of his cryptic message, assuming it has something to do with the upcoming launch of Hooli’s newest product. Here is the clip.
It might well be the funniest scene (for me) in the whole season. And not just because it is hilarious watching his team try to decipher his message and take action upon their interpretation – but because this exact thing is happening everywhere, all the time!
See – when you are a/the leader, what regularly happens is that your team listens intently to everything you say and tries to make sense out of it; you are the leader after all.
I learned this lesson the hard way in my first company: Often I found myself rambling about some ideas I hatched out during yet another long, sleepless night – now, these were thoughts and ideas, half-baked at best. And yet – my team thought it is the new direction of the company and went to work implementing them. It took me a while to discover this pattern and start to self-regulate what and when I shared my ideas. Even prefacing my thoughts with “this is just an idea” typically didn’t help; the team still thought that when I say “idea” I mean “new direction” with me trying to be a bit less direct.
All of which is one of the many reasons why people say it is lonely at the top. And even more, a reason for you to find allies with whom you can be real, exchange ideas and have them laugh about your honey bear jokes.
P.S. For quite a while we have a Facebook Group for our fellow Heretics. I am not using Facebook anymore, as do quite a few others. I also never really liked the UI/UX of FB Groups all that much. Having said that. I wonder if we should set up a different forum for us to come together as a community. Please head over to this four-question Google Form and let me know!